(Ripley, TN), November 18, 2011 — Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) addressed dozens of Lauderdale County residents and others in Ripley, Tennessee earlier today to promote home grown economic development along the Mississippi River and Tennessee’s “West Coast.”  Norris promoted West Tennessee’s natural assets as one of the region’s best assets to spur economic growth.  

“The Mississippi River is to West Tennessee what the Smokies are to East Tennessee,” said Senator Norris.  “We have some of the only in-tact flood-plain forest land and state natural areas in the South and some of the best river views which are perfectly suited for nature and sports-based tourism.” 

Norris helped found the Mississippi River Corridor -Tennessee, a 501 (c)3 organization, which sponsored the event. With support from the McKnight Foundation and the State of Tennessee, the group will spearhead the effort to formulate an economic development plan capitalizing on Lauderdale County’s natural and recreational assets. 

Also in attendance were County Mayor Rod Schuh, Halls Mayor Eugene Pugh, and representatives from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency and US Department of Agriculture (USDA). 

“Outdoor recreation is an $18 billion industry in the four-state region which includes Tennessee. Wildlife viewing, bicycling, hiking, camping, fishing and hunting is big business, and we’re going to make it bigger inWest Tennessee,” added Norris. 

Norris was instrumental in securing federal scenic by-way recognition of Tennessee’s west coast which was also designated by the State of Tennesseeas the Great River Road in October. 

“Economic development through eco-tourism is a natural,” says the Senator with a smile. “It’s not hard to find the good and praise it amidst such opportunity.” 

Norris represents District 32 which is “the West Coast of Tennessee” including Dyer, Lauderdale, Tipton and ShelbyCounty.

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